If you’re into video games, you have, no doubt, heard people use the term “pwn”. The term is, more often than not, seen in written form, though it is starting to become more commonplace thanks to various MMO’s and online gaming networks such as Xbox Live.
The word itself came about due to the frequency in which the typo would appear, much in the same way that ‘teh” became mainstream for the internet’s interpretation of the word “the”, “pwn” is attributed to people hitting the “p” key, when in actuality they were attempting to type “own”.
As with many things, this soon took on a life of it’s own and “pwning” someone is usually meant to say that the person utterly dominated a competitor in some game. It has become one of the “leetspeak” staples and one of the more common gamer/nerd terms that get thrown around.
It’s most frequently seen during First Person Shooter gameplay, such as Halo or Counter-Strike matches for example, but the term can be used to describe any competitve event where one party is completely outclassed and soundly defeated.
Due to the fact that the word itself doesn’t have a vowel, pronunciation of the word can be tricky. Generally, from what I’ve gathered it’s pronounced the same way the root word is pronounced, only with a p in front of the “o”, thus making it sound like “powned”, though there are other pronunciations such as “pwin”, “pawn”, “pun”, and even “own”, yes some see the tail of the “p” as “silent” thus returning the word to it’s roots.
Like any verb, pwn can be conjugated. In past tense, it becomes pwn’d. You can also apply prefixes, the most common one being “uber”, meaning that you really got destroyed.
Some see it as a sign of the decline of civilization and the embrace of poor literary, spelling, and typing skills, but like it or not, the term has earned a place in popular vernacular.